Ramzaoui, H, Faure, S and Spotorno, S ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-1455-3568 (2021) EXPRESS: Age-related differences when searching in a real environment: The use of semantic contextual guidance and incidental object encoding. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology.

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Abstract

Visual search is a crucial, everyday activity that declines with aging. Here, referring to the environmental support account, we hypothesized that semantic contextual associations between the target and the neighboring objects (e.g., a teacup near a tea bag and a spoon), acting as external cues, may counteract this decline. Moreover, when searching for a target, viewers may encode information about the co-present distractor objects, by simply looking at them. In everyday life, where viewers often search for several targets within the same environment, such distractor objects may often become targets of future searches. Thus, we examined whether incidentally fixating a target during previous trials, when it was a distractor, may also modulate the impact of aging on search performance. We used everyday object arrays on tables in a real room, where healthy young and older adults had to search sequentially for multiple objects across different trials within the same array. We showed that search was quicker: (1) in young than older adults, (2) for targets surrounded by semantically associated objects than unassociated objects, but only in older adults, and (3) for incidentally fixated targets than for targets that were not fixated when they were distractors, with no differences between young and older adults. These results suggest that older viewers use both environmental support based on object semantic associations and object information incidentally encoded to enhance efficiency of real-world search, even in relatively simple environments. This reduces, but does not eliminate, search decline related to aging.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Visual search is a crucial, everyday activity that declines with aging. Here, referring to the environmental support account, we hypothesized that semantic contextual associations between the target and the neighboring objects (e.g., a teacup near a tea bag and a spoon), acting as external cues, may counteract this decline. Moreover, when searching for a target, viewers may encode information about the co-present distractor objects, by simply looking at them. In everyday life, where viewers often search for several targets within the same environment, such distractor objects may often become targets of future searches. Thus, we examined whether incidentally fixating a target during previous trials, when it was a distractor, may also modulate the impact of aging on search performance. We used everyday object arrays on tables in a real room, where healthy young and older adults had to search sequentially for multiple objects across different trials within the same array. We showed that search was quicker: (1) in young than older adults, (2) for targets surrounded by semantically associated objects than unassociated objects, but only in older adults, and (3) for incidentally fixated targets than for targets that were not fixated when they were distractors, with no differences between young and older adults. These results suggest that older viewers use both environmental support based on object semantic associations and object information incidentally encoded to enhance efficiency of real-world search, even in relatively simple environments. This reduces, but does not eliminate, search decline related to aging.
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology > BF173 Psychoanalysis
R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine
R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine > RA0421 Public health. Hygiene. Preventive Medicine
Divisions: Faculty of Natural Sciences > School of Psychology
Related URLs:
Depositing User: Symplectic
Date Deposited: 21 Dec 2021 16:26
Last Modified: 21 Dec 2021 16:26
URI: https://eprints.keele.ac.uk/id/eprint/10429

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